January 21, 1836—A Night of Visions
The Lord will reveal himself to us when, where, and how he pleases. It is not by the will of man that revelation comes, but by the will of God.
Thursday January 21, 1836, Kirtland, Ohio. 16 men entered the Kirtland House of the Lord and climbed the winding staircase to the third floor west office of Joseph Smith. They had washed and prepared themselves and now were there to attend to the ordinance of sacred anointings as found in the Old Testament.
Joseph Smith Sr. being the oldest man present and the Patriarch, sat in the chair first. The First Presidency gathered around him, consecrated oil, and then anointed and blessed him each in turn. Father Smith then rose and began to anoint those who had just blessed him. Then the members of the Presidency blessed each man following his anointing. Afterwards the other men in the room were similarly anointed and blessed.
That significant night the spirit of the Lord was poured out in rich abundance. “The House was filled with the glory of God,” and many received visions and the ministrations of angels, and so testified. Among them was Joseph Smith Jr. who received one of the greatest and most comforting revelations ever given to man. He said,
The Heavens were opened upon us and I beheld the Celestial Kingdom of God, and the glory thereof….I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire; also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son. I saw the beautiful streets of that Kingdom which had the appearance of being paved with gold.
Then Joseph described seeing several people including his father and mother who were both yet alive. Clearly, this was a vision of future events. But then Joseph saw his brother Alvin, who had died back in 1823 at the age of 25. How could Alvin be in the highest heaven with God since he had never had the opportunity to be baptized?
Joseph was then given the answer to one of the greatest theological questions of the millennia—what about all those who live and die and never have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and receive it ordinances? Are they saved, or damned, and if so, what is the justification for either. The Lord said,
All that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts shall be heirs of that kingdom. For I the Lord will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.
Joseph then learned that all children who die before they come of age are automatically saved in the highest heaven of God. Can you imagine the joy just for Joseph alone who had lost his beloved brother Alvin and his own children to death? They were saved and he would see them again!
It did not stop there! Joseph also saw into the terrestrial kingdom. He saw the Twelve Apostles and the Savior in their midst in foreign lands. He saw those Apostles escorted into the Celestial Kingdom of God, and many other things did he see, he said, “which the tongue of man cannot describe in full.”
This night would begin a rich Pentecostal season lasting about 15 weeks in which more saints witnessed visions, angels, spiritual gifts, and even the Savior himself, than perhaps any other time in history. And the point is this—it is history—written, recorded, signed and certified by eyewitnesses who were there.
Art by Glen S. Hopkinson
For more stories by Glenn Rawson visit, www.glennrawson.com or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Glenn-Rawson-Stories/ or www.historyofthesaints.org